Charitable Trusts Cases

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Gilmour v Coats [1949] AC 426

Facts: Money was settled on trust for the purpose of supporting a community of cloistered nuns.

Held: It was held that the trust’s purpose fell within the category of advancement of religion, but the purpose was not held beneficial and so was not charitable; the counsel claimed that the purpose was beneficial on the basis that the nuns’ prayers delivered a benefit to the wider public, but this benefit was rejected as incapable of proof

Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales v A-G [1972] Ch 73

Facts: The purpose of the Council of Law Reporting was to publish law reports

Held: The court held this fell within the advancement of education as this transmitted knowledge of the law to the public → so it was held to be a charity

  • “[The advancement of education extends] to the improvement of a useful branch of human knowledge and its public dissemination" (Buckley L.J.)

IRC v Baddeley [1955] AC 572

Held: A purpose of providing social and recreational facilities to members of the Methodist Church in West Ham was held not to extend to a “sufficient section of the public”; the geographic restriction was reasonable, but the further restriction (i.e. to Methodists) was held to be unreasonable, so did not satisfy public aspect

IRC v Oldham Training and Enterprise Council [1996] STC 1218

Held: A trust for the unemployed in business was held charitable on the basis that it relieved poverty

ISC v Charity Commission [2012] 1 All ER 127

Held: The Upper Tribunal here held those that can afford to pay for private school education are not poor → So it was recognised that a hypothetical private school with the sole aim of educating children whose parents could afford the fees would indeed exclude the poor, and in turn the private school would not be a charity

  • But, the tribunal noted that most private schools make provision for the poor through scholarships, bursaries, and opening up facilities to broader community → so it was held that provided this provision to the poor was more than token then a private school would be held not to exclude the poor and would not, for this reason, fail the public aspect of the public benefit test

National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31

Facts: The purpose here was to ban animal testing, but banning animal testing was held on balance to be detrimental. The purpose clearly fell within s3(1) (of advancing animal welfare), but it could not satisfy the benefit requirement of the 'public benefit' requirement.

Held: The court found a detriment in this case (unlike the other two cases) of banning animal testing → this was the loss of medical progress that would otherwise be achieved through animal testing. However, they also found a benefit → if animal testing were banned this would promote kindness among humans

  • Court held the detriment far outweighed the benefit → so the purpose was on balance detrimental so could not satisfy benefit aspect of public benefit test

Oppenheim v Tobacco Securities Trust [1951]

Facts: Income of a trust fund was to be used to educate the children of employees and former employees of BAT Co and its subsidiary.

Held: Current employees of BAT numbered over 110,000 but as the opportunity to benefit was restricted by a personal nexus the public aspect was not satisfied → so did not satisfy public aspect of public benefit test

  • The court noted the conclusion reached would have been different had the purpose been to educate children of those involved in the tobacco industry in a given town, because restrictions as to locality and parental occupation are allowed in the context of education!

Re Coulthurst [1951] Ch 661

Facts: A fund was set up for a newly widowed women and the orphans of deceased bank offices.

Held: It was held that this purpose was charitable because the purpose relieved poverty under s3(1)(a) Charities Act

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Re Coxen [1948] Ch 747

Facts: The purpose of providing a dinner was held to be non-charitable purpose, but crucially the purpose was incidental to the main charitable purpose of the trust to fund medical charities

Held: Therefore, the trust was still exclusively for charitable purpose in line with s.1 Charities Act 2011 (or the relevant common law rule at the time)

Re Gwyon [1930] 1 Ch 255

Facts: Money was left to provide boys in Hampshire with underwear.

Held: This purpose ws not for the prevention or relieve of poverty because there was no requirement the boys be poor

Re Hopkins [1965] Ch 669

Facts: Money had been settled for purpose of researching whether Shakespeare plays were actually written by Francis Bacon.

Held: It was held this was a purpose under s3(1)(b) Charities Act as it was not manifestly futile and that on publication of the research the sum of knowledge would be improved

Re Koeppler [1984] Ch 243

Facts: Money was left on trust for a centre dedicated to holding conferences on global issues, attended by high-profile individuals

Held: This purposes fell under advancing education

Re Shaw [1958]

Facts: A trust was established for the purpose of undertaking research to create a new alphabet that would be comprehensible to all.

Held: It was held that this was not charitable because it involved propaganda

Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 WLR 1565

Facts: The main purpose was charitable (studying and disseminating ethical principles), but the purpose of proving social activities was held not to be charitable

Held: However, the social activity purpose was held to be incidental to the main charitable purpose → so, the trust was still exclusively for charitable purposes

Thornton v Howe (1862) 31 Beav 14

Facts: A trust was established for the purpose of publishing the writing of an author who claimed to be pregnant by the holy ghost.

Held: The court dubiously said this was a charitable purpose and was held to extend to the public - as there was no requirement of benefit it was held to be a charitable purpose

United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England v Holborn Borough Council [1957]

Held: Freemasonary was held not to advance religion within s3(1)(c) → although it is a religion, its goals are not to advance the religion therefore its purposes cannot be charitable purposes under s3(1)(c)

Williams’ Trustees v IRC [1947] AC 447

Facts: The purpose of the charitable trust was for maintaining an institute for the benefit of Welsh people living in London

Held: This was held not to extend to a “sufficient section of the public”; the geographic limitation was reasonable, but the further restriction (being Welsh) was unreasonable, so did not satisfy the public aspect of public benefit test

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